Technology as an inclusion method while facing the COVID-19 pandemic: the “Coronavirus-SUS” app

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Giulia Murillo Wollmann and Ms. Júlia Carolina Esteves de França, both medical students at the University of Joinville (UNIVILLE), Joinville (SC)-Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Throughout time it has become inevitable for people to avoid technology in daily life, we live in an era of innovations and it’s no different in healthcare. New devices and tools are launched according to needs, during the pandemic many sectors had to speed up or put in order adaptations that permitted working in long distance formats.  Regarding the health scope, tech solutions are not always welcome, however, a phone app developed by the Brazilian government has presented itself as a very important solution for doubts about the new coronavirus.  

In a country where social inequality prevails, only a reduced number of people have access to solid information, in this context the “Coronavírus – SUS” app was created by an initiative of the Brazilian Ministry of Health. While facing a period of uncertainty, in which various information is released in a single day, it is important that the population has access to secure, up-to-date and easily understood sources. Only in this way is it possible to reach people from all social spheres, providing data in a way that fits their reality.

The app presents reliable information on the COVID-19, by showing prevention tips, and steps on what to do in case of a possible infection – contributing for a reduction in the number of unnecessary visits to hospitals and healthcare units, as well as indicating what is the closest health facility the patient can go to. If an individual is showing symptoms, there is a section of the application in which it is possible to select the disease signs, such as: cough, fever, body aches and difficulty breathing. Following that, questions like “have you had any contact with a suspect of COVID-19?” are popped, in which after answering, a logarithm informs the possibility of infection by the virus. From this result, the “Coronavirus-SUS” app will direct the person according to their answers, forwarding to a health unit closest to their home (which the app locates by GPS), staying at home and looking for an emergency room in case of worsening, among others.

Innovations such as this one come to present a new perspective on our use of technology, proving it is not only helpful but sometimes the only possibility to connect people and solve problems. With a scenario where social inequalities can make reaching a healthcare professional almost impossible, simple and accessible alternatives can have the power of saving lives. 

Hopefully, new tools like this one will be developed, allowing trustworthy information to reach patients and connect them with professionals when in need. This way, it will be possible to engage the population towards what’s happening and provide them access to basic and fundamental knowledge, which can be vital while facing periods such as the SARSCOV-2 pandemic, where prevention and self-care are of extreme importance. Lastly, as technology evolves, it is imperative that it is used as a facilitator and as an engine for reaching people, giving the population, of all social spheres, a chance to be included and informed.  

References:

Aplicativo Coronavírus SUS agora envia mensagens de alertas aos usuários n.d. https://www.saude.gov.br/noticias/agencia-saude/46628-aplicativo-coronavirus-sus-agora-envia-mensagens-de-alertas-aos-usuarios (accessed July 24, 2020).

Coronavírus: SUS lança app com informações da doença no Brasil | Rede de Escolas n.d. http://rededeescolas.ensp.fiocruz.br/coronavirus-sus-lanca-app-com-informacoes-da-doenca-no-brasil (accessed July 24, 2020).

Digital technologies critical in facing COVID-19 pandemic | UN DESA | United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs n.d. https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/policy/digital-technologies-critical-in-facing-covid-19-pandemic.html (accessed July 24, 2020).

About the author

This article was written exclusively for The European Sting by Giulia Murillo Wollmann and Júlia Carolina Esteves de França, both medical students at the University of Joinville (UNIVILLE), Joinville (SC)-Brazil. All authors are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Student Association (IFMSA), the cordial partner of The Sting, and are members of the NUPEC committee. Scientific Research Nucleus. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the subject, nor The European Sting’s view.

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